Conversations: EPISODE 12

Sarah Schleper: Five-Time Olympian On Mental Preparation, Elite Performance, Youth Skiing, and Living Life to the Fullest

June 22, 2020
Reviewed By: Amy Rontal

“I’m doing this for the passion of the sport and to inspire others.” “I know I’m not going to win, but I want to prove that people my age and girls in general can push the limit. It’s about longevity.”

–Sarah Schleper
Sarah Schleper

Before there was Lindsey Vonn, before there was Mikaela Shiffrin…there was Sarah Schleper. 

Sarah is a five-time Olympian. She skied in four Olympics for the USA and one for Team Mexico. You heard that correctly, Team Mexico. And what’s most amazing is that she is still competitively skiing. 

During her time with the US Ski Team, Sarah had four World Cup podium finishes and she won seven American championships. In 2005, she finished 5th in the World Cup slalom standings and 17th overall in the world.

Sarah’s journey is truly remarkable

She started ski racing relatively late in her life—at the age of 11, unlike most elite ski racers who started around 6 or 7 years old. 

And it was in these adolescent years that Sarah trained under the legendary coach Erich Sailer, who also was Lindsey Vonn’s coach along with dozens of other women on the US Ski Team. 

Sarah’s career with the US Ski Team spanned 15 years, and when she retired in 2011, she did it in style by skiing in her last World Cup run and wearing a beautiful dress. But that’s not all. Mid-way down the run, Sarah picked up her 4-year-old son, Lasse, and carried him through the finish line. You can see this all for yourself on YouTube. I’ll include the link in the blog post.

While many people know about Sarah’s remarkable career, her famous final World Cup race, and her adrenaline-releasing lioness roar before every race, this just scratches the surface of who Sarah is as a person.

I met Sarah a few years ago when my daughter Ruby attended the Erich Sailer Ski Camp at Mt. Hood, Oregon.  Sarah, who was once the athlete being coached by the legendary Sailer, is now a coach herself for so many rising young athletes. 

While there is no doubt that Sarah has a wealth of knowledge to share with her students, what impressed me from the moment I met her was the way people gravitated towards her and how she would motivate people to do things they never thought were otherwise possible. 

Just as she inspired the members of the US Women’s Ski Team for so many years, Sarah inspired me from the moment we met. She’s even become an inspiration to my family. Oftentimes in our household, you’ll hear one of us say to our two children, “What would Sarah do in this situation?”

In this episode, we touched on so many topics. 

Whether you are a ski racer, a young athlete dreaming of the Olympics, a parent of a young ski racer, or simply someone who loves to learn, I promise you this conversation does not disappoint and there is a ton of actionable information to take away.

This introduction can go on and on as there is so much to say about Sarah Schlerper’s impact on the world. 

So without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to the lioness herself, Sarah Schleper.

Wait, there’s more…

About Sarah Schleper from today’s superstars

Sarah Schleper: Vail’s Olympic Mom

Sarah Schleper, Now Representing Mexico

Balancing Motherhood and Another Mountain Run

Sarah Schleper on Facebook

Sarah Schleper on Instagram


Dr. Adam Rosh:   Alright. Welcome to the show. Sarah, how are you?

Sarah Schleper:   Good Adam. How are you?

Dr. Rosh:   I’m good. I’m good. It’s great to be talking. I love the noises that I’m hearing on your end here. You have birds and the wild chirping and making noise. You’re in Mexico right now, right?

Sarah:   Yeah. We’re in Puerto Escondido in the state of Oaxaca. I came outside because inside I have the fans going. There might be construction going on outside at some point, but I figured this was the most peaceful spot to do the interview.

Dr. Rosh:   Yeah. It definitely sounds peaceful. I’ve got to tell you. I’ve always known something a little about you and your history, but in preparing for this interview I loved…It was the best week of my life because I got to watch amazing ski videos, read articles that were just coming on the internet back in 2008 and the early days of the internet, and learning all about U.S. skiing, women’s skiing in particular. Learning about your journey. I’m really excited to do this interview. I have so much to ask you, and I doubt I’m going to be able to get through all of it. Maybe we’ll have to continue it some other time. I wanted to start in a place where most people would recognize and know you the most by your signature roar. This is all over the internet here. For those that don’t know, Sarah starts her races often—I don’t know if it’s all the time—with a signature lioness roar. I wanted to talk to you about when did that start and how did it start?

Sarah:   Well, I’m the type of athlete that trains really, really well. So I would be the fastest at training, like beating top World Cup skiers. Then I would get into a race situation and I would think so much about the race and so much expectation and things—I guess things that you learn as you develop as an athlete—that I would just kind of choke almost. So I had a ski technician that was like, “Come on Sarah. Let out a scream before you scream before you go.” He kind of pushed me into that. As we progressed, it became this roar. For me what it did was it basically said I don’t care about anything else right now. I don’t care what people think of me. This is my performance. It just let out all of that anxiety for the performance so that I could do my job, which was ski fast. Actually it’s developed so much for me because I do it every race. At some point, some of the U.S. ski team coaches said I was wasting too much energy and I shouldn’t do it, but we came to realize that it actually did help me. So they said, “Okay, you should do it.” Now when I do it if somebody asks me to do it just for fun or something, it actually produces adrenaline. I feel like that readiness to compete.

Dr. Rosh:   You know what, I never knew that as far as how that got started. So tell me a little bit about the ability to train hard. It sounds like the difference between your performance from training to the actual race was all in your head.

Sarah:   Yeah.

Dr. Rosh:   What did you see as those barriers? Were you ever able to identify what was happening that was causing your performance to change?

Sarah:   Well, in ski racing training you’re going lap after lap on the same course. So the race is actually quite different from training unless you set up a race simulation training. So you’re doing the same course. So you can continually work on a turn to get faster. When you get into a race situation, you only have one shot on that course. So you inspect down it. Normally in training you’re inspecting pretty quick. You just look through it and go down. In a race situation, what’s typical of people is they’ll take a lot of time to look at a course. So you’re thinking, “Oh, how am I going to do this?” So I don’t think I was aware enough to actually consider, “Okay. What can I do to go faster?” I was just like oh that turn looks hard or that looks so much harder. It would be easier than your mind would project the course. So I came to have this kind of routine that I wouldn’t do, and I wouldn’t inspect fast. I would inspect at a pretty steady race. I’d slip through a field of snow. If there was a blind turn or something, maybe I’d hike back up just to have the right direction and know where I was going over the terrain, but I would make it—I mean these are things that you have to learn on your own because everyone’s different.

No friends on race day. We always say no friends on powder day. Well I’d say no friends on race day because I would find myself waiting for my friend to go up the chair lift. Instead of focusing on the performance or what I needed to do to make it a solid performance, I’d be more worried about what my friends were doing. So it was inspect fast, no friends on race day, positive attitude. So you wouldn’t look at the course and be like, “Oh, that looks hard.” You’d look at it and be like, “Oh, I know I can get more speed here. Or this is a great day for me.” Even if it was cloudy, rainy, you try to make the best out of this experience. Those are my three things actually.

Dr. Rosh:   So as far as—We’re going to circle back to the no friends on race day idea because I want to dig into that. As far as inspect fast, no friends on race day, think positive, what about other routines that you have on race day that when you were skiing at 16 and 18, is the routine pretty much the same from when you were skiing in your 30s? Did it change?

Sarah:   Another thing I love to do—On a race day you spend a lot of time in the lodge because you’re waiting for your run basically. I think that’s maybe not the best way to go about it. So I started implementing more free skiing before I’d race, getting my body warm. All these routines slowly developed over time. So I think in the beginning it was more of just go with the crowd, do what everyone else is doing. Then as you gain more experience and you learn more about all the pieces of the sport, you can develop your own routines that work better for you as an individual.

Dr. Rosh:   So skiing is such an individualized sport. It’s interesting that you said that you go with the pack. I’d imagine that everyone that you’re around is an elite skier on that day. I’m surprised to hear though that—Has it maybe changed now where you’ll have the top skiers kind of doing their own thing, coaches around them, having their own routines rather than being in groups of people? Is that…

Sarah:   Well, I think the clubs, especially in the U.S., are still a little bit behind maybe in that they inspect together as a group, stopping at every gate. I think some kids can get through that, but maybe some don’t. At the club level, I think it is still much a pack type environment, but you do have the specialized kids that the parents are really involved or they’re paying a private coach where it can be a little bit more individualized. Which maybe from the pack view it looks bad because they’re like well why does this person get this individualized attention and I don’t? They happen to be the ones doing better because they have their needs and focuses met, but it’s not a feasible outlet for the thousands of kids involved in this sport. So I think just finding maybe if you can’t have that opportunity, just finding your way individually in the pack and things that work for you. I was always brought up in the club. I had my dad who was very outspoken and was looking out for needs a lot of the time, but I did have to find my way through that environment.

Dr. Rosh:   As far as other routines, like you listen to music. How did you psych yourself up and keep yourself focused on race day?

Sarah:   Everyday was different. I think if you kind of focus too much on routine that you do every time the same, maybe it doesn’t get that psyche that you need. Some days I just sit by myself at the start and envision myself—this was after I started the roar—in a cage. Like I just got to get out of this cage and get mentally psyched up like that, but I couldn’t do that every time because it didn’t work. Sometimes it would work. I think you have to take the day, see how it feels. Those four things I knew worked for me. As you get closer to the start and you’re in the arena with all the other athletes, that’s where the psyche can really get in the way or help you down. So you have to find your way through. Basically when you’re in the start arena with all the top skiers and so you’re like oh. There’s cameras there in your face. You have to be mentally tough to not care what anyone thinks. So if you’re doing silly exercises or hop turn or whatever you’re doing that you don’t care how they’re going to analyze what you’re doing and making sure you’re doing what you need to do to prepare. Because it’s a one shot thing, you know. You trip the wand early and your race is done.

Dr. Rosh:   Yeah. So we’re speaking in May of 2020. I just got done watching the series The Last Dance about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. I don’t know if you’ve been able to watch that or not. It’s truly outstanding. One thing that I was so impressed with MJ was that he would use any little motivation, any little incident, or any little incentive to motivate him. So if someone looked at him the wrong way or took a shot and said something, he would then say like oh no. You’re going to see what’s coming your way. In the ski world, was there anything like that where you would find a motivator to focus on the day of or on that run?

Sarah:   Yeah. I don’t like conflict with other people. So I didn’t look for that. We had two stars when I was racing, Janica Kostelić and Anja Pärson. The first World Cup Janica came to that I saw; we were in inspection and she skied right over Anja Pärson’s skis. I thought that was—I was like oh my gosh. This is crazy. So they started that rival. It was fun to watch. I know Picabo Street would do stuff like that too. She would feed off and play mind games with people. I wasn’t like that. I was more like oh this song. It was like, “I can feel it coming in the air…” That’s when I got my first World Cup podium. I was like oh, this is my day. Or I’d go free ski really hard, some [inaudible] under the chair and just bomb it down as fast as I could. Stuff like that. That would feed me more than rivalries with other competitors. Big crowds, I loved that. That would motivate me.

Dr. Rosh:   One more question on kind of this race day prep and routine. When you are at the gate, the starting gate, a minute before you’re ready to go, what’s your self-talk? What are you saying to yourself?

Sarah:   I mean it’s always different, obviously. I had a coach. He was the coach for the youth, and he gave me some cool tips. He was like, “Just go no mind. Just trust yourself.” In skiing you have to visualize a lot and know where you’re going, but then once you get to that spot right before the gate it’s best to just trust and trust in your ability. I always did the thing like be in the present moment, have a good start. Don’t think about down the course, just have a great start. So that was an easy thing to focus on to stay present because you’re there. Have a good start, come out, skate hard, get going as quick as you can. Other times you’re just thinking maybe about a little technical thing that you’re working on like over the outside ski. Just get that feeling of over the outside ski, over the outside ski. Something like that. Something simple. If any worry or doubt comes in about a turn down below, I would prepare the race for that one turn. Obviously, my time would reflect that.

Dr. Rosh:   Right, right.

Sarah:   For me, it’s just about being no mind or very simple, technical.

Dr. Rosh:   Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. Alright. Let’s transition just a little. I want to just touch on the Olympics. You’ve skied now in five Olympics, and I think one of three women who have skied for more than one country.

Sarah:   Really?

Dr. Rosh:   Yep. Probably very few who have children in the ski racing world as well. I want to know at what point in your life did you go from dreaming about skiing in the Olympics to actually realizing that it was something attainable?

Sarah:   Yeah. When I was little—like five, six, seven, eight, nine—I wanted to be an Olympic gymnast. Where I grew up, I just didn’t have the training for that. Skiing kind of called me. My dad has a ski shop. So the Olympic dream didn’t really change, but the sport did which was cool. Then I don’t know. I started out really bad. We started out with five groups and I was in group five, which was the worst group. They ranked us by ability.

Dr. Rosh:   What age was this?

Sarah:   This was at 11. I started really late actually for skiing. I’d been skiing all my life, but I hadn’t been a racer until later. My coach’s daughter was one year older than me and she was like the star. We became really close friends, but I was always chasing her down. Always, always chasing her down. I’d never beat her. Erich would hand time us and I was always behind her, which I think sometimes I was in front of her, but he stopped the timer later. I think that actually helped me more maybe than it helped her because I always wanted to get her, wanted to get her, wanted to get faster. Then as I reached J3, which was 13/14, my results just started going—I was winning all the races. Then I kind of never looked back. I just kept on the path. I think the Olympics was always there. I don’t know if I was like so, “I’ve got to go to the Olympics. I’ve got to go.” I was just going with the U.S. ski team, which was amazing, so much fun. We were out on the road and racing. I’d have bad races, good races, but I was always fast. Since 13 and on I was fast. So it was kind of just like the natural path.

Then I was at the Olympics. I was 18 turning 19. It was surreal. One of my teammates mentioned he wished he could have had more of my attitude, which was just so happy to be at the Olympics versus putting so much pressure to perform and try and win a medal. So I think my first Olympics was just like, “Oh my gosh. I made it. I’m here. It’s amazing.” I’m still pretty immature. I think I’m a late bloomer in a lot of ways, but I was so excited just to be competing. When I look back and see like Lindsey and Mikaela and their goals and dreams, they had bigger aspirations. Lindsey was like, “I want to win this many races. I want to win this many globes.” I don’t think I was that aware of those pinnacles. I was just like I want to go to the Olympics, and that’s what I did. I went to the Olympics. So for me, I made it to what I had set out for myself.

Dr. Rosh:   So much there to unpack. When you were 13 and 14, you mentioned that something changed in your athletic performance. We could imagine it’s lots of things. Maybe it’s biological like your body changed, maybe something emotional changed, or maybe your coaching changed. Do you have any idea of what it was that happened then?

Sarah:   I think it was just the repetition of the practice and the people I had around me. I had Martina and Erich. I was welcomed as like a sister almost. They would take me with them. Martina was an only child. So I think it was welcome. I think Erich liked me from the beginning. We became this kind of unit. So I got to train and travel with the best from—I mean I was late because most people had started ski racing at whatever six and I was 11. So I stepped into the right environment, and that propelled me to start winning pretty quickly.

Dr. Rosh:   So just for everyone. We’re going to dive into this a little deeper later, but when Sarah mentions Erich she’s talking about Erich Sailer who is actually the first and maybe the only—but could be someone else now—ski race coach in the hall of fame. So he’s a legend.

Sarah:   He’s Lindsey Vonn’s coach. He’s coached almost more than 50% of the female Olympians in my time. All of us had had his coaching at some time. Julia, Resi Stiegler, Tasha Nelson.

Dr. Rosh:   Yeah. We’re going to circle back that in a second. As far as—Would you consider yourself at age 13/14, kind of as your abilities were maturing and changing, would you consider yourself—Your greatest talents. Were they more of just like a natural ability to ski fast or would you say that you mentally were able to kind of conquer the course? Or was it more tactical? Like technical in a way. Like people describe Mikaela Shiffrin as a technical skier. What do you consider your kind of thing that propels you? Is it this natural ability to get down? Is it the way to—Oh, that’s okay. Lasse, your son, just entered. I could see him. So just to go back to that question. Everything good with him?

Sarah:   Yeah. He’ll figure it out.

Dr. Rosh:   What would you describe yourself in the younger years as the type…Like what made you at the top? What made you be able to win these races? If anything.

Sarah:   It goes to my upbringing. My dad raised me, and I had a brother. He was all about hard work. We never got to sleep past 7:00 or 8:00 in the morning. He always had projects for us. I always had to do the dishes. He was just a little bit hard on us but loving at the same time. I think that started me out with this will to work hard and do…It kind of became a natural way to just do as many runs as I could. I had a lot of enthusiasm for life. I was never considered a tactical skier. I would always blow the tactical part because I was head down, go as fast as I can. Those are the things like really smart skiers like [inaudible] and they know when to slow down, when to speed it up. So I think it was more of this commitment to what I was doing, if anything.

Dr. Rosh:   Yeah, that makes sense. I mean it sounds like a lot of those seeds were planted at a young age and sprouted throughout your adolescence and teen years. Let’s circle back to now your mentors and coaches. I know Erich Sailer played a really important role early on in your ski career. Are there any—if you can name some, put your finger on some—of the key takeaways like really important themes that Erich was able to impart on you throughout your career that would come back over and over again.

Sarah:   Well, one of the things he always told us was you have to coach yourself. So if what a coach is saying doesn’t seem right, make sure you have the ability—I think that’s true in any kind of situation through life. Spiritual leaders say the same thing. If it resonates with you, then put it into your practice. Otherwise you can choose your own way. That was helpful, especially as a slow budding woman. He taught us about doing a lot of repetition and having a rivalry was always a good thing. Having somebody to push you. Watching the best, skiing behind the best, learning from the best. Just simple stuff. Then he always talked about not changing your technique. Doing what was natural for you, making a natural skier and I love that. Yeah.

Dr. Rosh:   I’m just taking notes here. Those are really great. He has a pretty distinctive accent and voice. Do you hear his voice when you would ski, before a race, during it?

Sarah:   I will ski for his praise. I mean I still do it. I’m like watch me Erich. He’s like, “Oh beautiful Sarah. Beautiful.” Then if you piss him off it’s like, “God dammit Sarah, what are you doing?” Martina was scared of him. I was the rebellious one.  So I would sneak out of the room with the boys at night. He always tells this story at camp about how I was sleeping out in the hall waiting for these British boys to come by. He was like, “Get back in your room Sarah. What are you doing?” Martina was always the good one and doing the right thing. So we had that going a little bit.

Dr. Rosh:   Oh that’s funny. People on the U.S. ski team that have skied with you have described you as a fiercely competitive person with crazy energy and motivation that brought out competitiveness in all of them. For example, Lindsey Vonn said that you were always challenging her to push up and pull up competitions. Resi Stiegler said that you used to motivate her and push her to work harder. That she knew that you would never ever want to see her beat you because you are so competitive, but that inspired her to race harder. Is there a driving force behind your competitiveness? Anything that you could kind of describe?

Sarah:   We have this talk a lot. I’ve thought about it a lot. I’m extremely self-motivated. My surfing friends say the same thing. They gave me the nickname Wiggolly Dantas because he’s this surfer that’s just super crazy competitive passionate. I do the same thing in surfing. Just out there catching bombs and falling on crazy crashes. I think I also inspire my surfing friends to get out there. So I don’t know where that drive comes from. I don’t know if it’s genetic. I see my kids too. Lasse has this competitive urge. When he’s out on the hill and he wins a run, he gets so emotional and so excited. So I think it might be almost genetic makeup. I don’t know if everybody has it. I’ve just always had it. That’s why I was saying in training when we would train, I was so competitive and so fast. I wanted those fast times. It was interesting because when I get into the race, it was almost less important to me to be the fastest on that day. I mean obviously I was still competitive and wanted to win the races, but on training I was always just like come on. Bring it on. Let’s make this fun.

A lot of girls will have the competitive spirit, but they think it’s not good to show it or they won’t talk crap. They’ll keep it more internal and get more jealousy feelings or something. Where I’m like I had this one girl who was on the team, Jessica Kelly, and she had brothers and was more like that boy rivalry. Let’s do this. Once it was off the hill, it was like we were just friends. When we were out on the hills, it’s like come on. We’d have running races or any kind of—I love sports and I love that thrill of competition and trying to do your best and trying to win the thing. So I think—I don’t know. Maybe it’s genetic. Maybe it’s from the way I was brought up with boys all around me.

Dr. Rosh:   Yeah. It’s an interesting thought because in The Last Dance actually—it’s just as a reference, I just watched that recently. I mean Michael Jordan was the exact same way. People would describe him…Like it didn’t matter what it was, he was always competing. Whether it was who could throw a quarter closest to a wall from five feet away or a foul shot competition or a game, he was competitive everywhere. It ended up driving people to work harder all around him. My guess is that athletes all around him at this elite level, at the level that you’re working at, this is probably a characteristic that’s common among them.

Sarah:   Definitely. We used to have dessert eating—This is kind of disgusting. I could beat huge Austrian guys in eating food. We went to this all you can eat sushi and we got to the point where it was like I can do one more plate and he couldn’t. Then I got so sick after I thought I was going to explode. Or dessert eating competitions. Stupid stuff like that.

Dr. Rosh:   I love it. You mentioned that skiers like Lindsey Vonn, perhaps Mikaela Shiffrin kind of had a clear sense of I want to win X number of races, these number of points, medals. Did you have any—You said that wasn’t really your thing. You had to have or perhaps had goals or a way to manage or organize goals.  Maybe like wrote something down or would have a list of things or kept it in your mind. Did you have some general system or way that you named goals for yourself?

Sarah:   I write everything that comes to me. I’ve had journals since I was a really young girl. I’ve looked back at some of my training journals, which were more just like what I ate. I remember telling myself—I read this, “Stay away from the boys. They’re distracting from your goals.” Stuff like that.

Dr. Rosh:   Do you remember how old you were when you wrote that? Stay away from boys, they’re distracting.

Sarah:   I think I was like 13/14/15. That was one of Erich’s things too. Don’t have a boyfriend. They’re distracting. I was always into the boys. When we were on the C team, our coach George [Cabal ph?] he would have us do these goal sheets, I remember. I saw Lindsey’s and it was like, “This year I want to get podiums and World Cups. This year I’m going to win World Cups. This year I’m going to win the overall.” I don’t know if it’s because her dad was a very competitive skier so she knew more about the process and what the things you could win were. Maybe I was a little bit more naïve to that. Obviously, we all know we can win an Olympic medal, but I don’t think I’ve ever wrote win an Olympic medal. Maybe I did later, but originally it was always make it to the Olympics. I don’t remember specifically if I had won the World Junior Championship or stuff like that, but I was second in a lot of these big events. I was second in Topolino. I won Whistler Cup. I mean I did eventually win a World Cup, but I was one of those racers that was consistently in the top 10, which for an American wasn’t really you know. It’s hard for us as Americans to be doing that. I don’t know if it was because I also had this conservative side to me that I didn’t want to be that much in the spotlight. I don’t know what was holding me—

To win the World Cup, I read this book that my doctor in Germany gave me. I was having back problems, so I was seeing a specialist. I read this book about winning and I went on a vacation by myself. I studied the video side by side of Marlise and myself. I was like, “I can win. I can beat her.” I looked at it and I just kind of reset and went back and won the next race, which was crazy. I put it to myself and I did it. I think a lot of these athletes like Mikaela, they’re doing that all the time. She has help with her mom who’s like you can win this. She won’t let her get away with these little mistakes. Whereas if you’re in the team environment, the coach is looking out for the whole group of girls. So you’re not like a specific focus for them. So you have to be finding those little things for yourself. I mean I finally did it, but I think when you have parents like Lindsey and Mikaela have that are really active and helping them get through those little things, I think it’s definitely very helpful.

Dr. Rosh:   What was the name of the book?

Sarah:   It was called Winning.

Dr. Rosh:   Winning. Do you recall the author at all? Was it in German?

Sarah:   No I don’t. No, it was in English. He had it on his bookshelf. I was like I think I need to read that. Then I took it, read it, did the video thing, and then went. I met these guys and they were like, “Take this maca root.” So I started taking maca root and I was like okay. Then I went out and won the race.

Dr. Rosh:   Nice. Nice. That’s great. So I’m going to throw you a little curveball here. We have a guest that wants to join briefly and ask a couple of her own questions.

Sarah:   Awesome.

Dr. Rosh:   Let me introduce to you Ruby Rosh, my daughter who is 11 turning 12.

‘Sarah:   When’s your birthday Ruby?

Dr. Rosh:   Let me undo this here real quick.

Sarah:   My son is 12.

Dr. Rosh:   Alright can you see Ruby? She has a costume on for you.

Sarah:   Is that your Mexican rancher?

Dr. Rosh:   I don’t know what she’s doing.

Ruby Rosh: It’s for my art class.

Dr. Rosh:   It’s for her art class. She’s in school.

Sarah:   When’s your birthday Ruby?

Ruby: July 12th.

Sarah:   July 12th. Lasse turns 12 in January.

Dr. Rosh:   Yeah. So alright. Ruby has a couple questions that she wants to ask you.

Sarah:   Alright Ruby.

Ruby:   Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give yourself as a first year U14?

Sarah: These questions are always so hard. I honestly think I wouldn’t change much. I would just tell myself to believe in where you are, believe in what you’re at, and just go through the motions that you need to do to get to your adult life. When you’re 14, you don’t realize that you are actually going to become an adult at some point. So it’s really important that you enjoy being a child, enjoy being a kid, and have fun with your friends. If you want to be great at something, just keep your mind focused on it and not lose sight of where you want to go. Also at the same time have fun and enjoy the process.   

Dr. Rosh:   Do you have another one?

Ruby: Yeah. So my second one is how do you keep friendship with your teammates when they’re also your competitors?

Sarah:   That’s a hard question. I try to keep the competition stuff on the hill and when I’m open about being competitive. On the hill I’m like, “I want to kick your butt today. Let’s do this.” Then when it’s out and we’re just goofing around, we’re just having fun we kind of forget about being competitors. Maybe when you’re dryland training you’re like, “Okay, I’m going to do one more rep than you. Or I’m going to run faster than you.” Show yourself that way physically. As far as being in a team environment, having dinner, having fun, it’s really easy to be friends. Being friends is way more fun than being rivals I think. So I would try to keep close with my teammates and make it work in any way. All personalities are different. You get put into a situation on a team that maybe you’re not as compatible, but I would always try and make the group work as a friendship scenario. That makes being on the road so much more fun.

Dr. Rosh:  What do you think?

Sarah:   Did that answer your question?

Ruby: Yeah.

Dr. Rosh:   Ruby’s been working hard in dryland so far with the season cut short in February. She made the Rocky Central Team this year. So she’s excited. She needs the training.

Sarah:   Awesome. Congratulations. We are going to get some training in. I have a feeling.

Dr. Rosh:   Alright. Anything else? Alright cool. We’ll circle back. Alright.

Sarah:   Awesome.

Dr. Rosh:   That was good. She’s been talking about this for the last couple of days when she found out we were going to be speaking.

Sarah:   Nice.

Dr. Rosh:   So I want to stay on the topic of youth skiing for a little and ask you like what can the path look like for a young ski racer who wants to try and compete at the highest levels? Here’s the caveat. They don’t live in Vail. They don’t live in Buck Hill in Minnesota. They live in a state that definitely they could ski, they could join a race team. What does the path look like if they’re committed and they want to get to these highest levels? What are some of the key things?

Sarah:   Well to get, I think, to the highest level in anything, there are some sacrifices. You have to completely focus yourself on that thing you want to be the best at. We all know the famous theory of 10,000 hours, but I think that is true. You have to be committed. Writing in your journal not to talk to the boys because it’s distracting from where you’re headed and having that point set. Then there are many things that you can do that can get you there. The internet is so valuable now. You can watch every World Cup racer. You can pick out a [inaudible] to watch and just study them. I think it’d be the same in music or anything else. Just following that path and visualizing. I mean you can be training in your mind. They say that’s almost as viable as actually doing the same. So every time I meditate, I do a ski run. Then I do the ski run also in reverse, backwards, so you can kind of see the line. A motorcycle racer friend of mine told me that trick. So you run the course backwards. That gives the feeling for the shape of the turn and the wind, things like that. Then there’s obviously the physical training you can be doing. Making sure that you’re dedicating yourself everyday to do it. I would make up ski specific exercises. So I’d lay on my ball sideways and work on getting over the outside ski, working that side core, or lifting your legs. Skiing is all about having the ability to bring your legs up to you. So hanging from a bar and working these muscles. Just developing things that work for a skier, work for what you’re doing. I know that there’s this stigmatism that you have to be at the best club with the best—Actually we live in Vail. I think the program’s so big that it’s so easy just to get swept under the rug. Maybe the few elite skiers get some special attention, but maybe it’s better to even be at a different club where you can work and you’re not having to deal with all these other elite things going on. So I don’t think that is definitely the means all ends all or however that saying goes.

Dr. Rosh:   Yeah, yeah.

Sarah:   You definitely have to be training a lot and focusing everyday on that goal.

Dr. Rosh:   That makes a lot of sense. Were you always doing physical and mental training? So not during ski season, but in the off season. At what age did you recognize that you need to get your body in shape? You need to get your mind in shape as well.

Sarah:   Yeah, the mental came later for me. I didn’t realize how important it was. I think that was also just developing. It wasn’t as well known as it is now.

Dr. Rosh:   Right.

Sarah:   Physically I wouldn’t let myself go one day without—First it was rollerblading because rollerblading is very specific. So I would take my rollerblades and go out and rollerblade. I’d set up courses with cones or I’d rollerblade to the next town, anything to get that balance. Any kind of skating thing. I would also go on my trampoline and you can jump side to side like a ski motion. I’d do intervals that way. I wouldn’t let myself go one day without physical. If I was lazy one day, I would just feel so guilty. I was like you’ve got to go out, you’ve got to train harder, you’ve got to do more. I think we’re also kind of progressing away from that. Just making sure our training’s very focused and smart training, but I was into being the strongest. I found that when I got a trainer and actually did some heavier lifting and had somebody there to push me and motivate me, I had my better season. Even though I was very self-motivated, having that extra kind of guidance did help to get stronger. I don’t like the weight room. I’m one of those people that’s like no weight rooms. I do think skiing because of the forces that you endure during the length of the course that it is important to have some extra power there.

Dr. Rosh:   Yeah. Through the longevity of your career I would presume you probably, your attention to physical and mental health has prolonged—Do you feel like that’s been one of the main things in being able to prolong your career? I guess that’s what I’m trying to say.

Sarah:   Yeah. I’ve had those miraculous meetups with people where you’re like “how did that happen?” where I’ve learned specific things. I had a very early intro into yoga, and I love yoga because you learn your body so well. You learn things that can help you get yourself back in alignment. It’s a lengthening but also a strengthening that’s very practical. I think that does add a lot of longevity to any athlete’s career. Also this Tai Chi teacher followed me on Facebook like I have to teach you this stuff. I was like, “What is this guy…” So finally I just kind of gave in. I was like yeah okay. He drove out to Beaver Creek where I was staying to teach me some techniques, and then I all of a sudden became amazed with Tai Chi. It made me feel so good and so limber in my mid area, which is so important for skiing. I do Tai Chi religiously now. I have this one routine thing, one movement I do almost every day for 20 minutes. I think that’s one of the reasons that I can keep doing what I’m doing.

Then mentally I’ve had these also techniques come in just because I’m out there searching for things that really have helped me. Now I’m into the Wim Hof thing. I just did this webinar about SOMA breath, which is kind of a combination of Wim Hof and visualizing and these powerful beats. It just blew my mind. There’s all these little things out there that if you’re looking that will find you. I’ve been fortunate enough to run into some of those things.  

Dr. Rosh:   What’s your typical morning routine look like?

Sarah:   Before skiing or just like here in Mexico?

Dr. Rosh:   I would say take…

Sarah:   I can tell you both.

Dr. Rosh:   Yeah, yeah. I want to know, yeah. Go on.

Sarah:   Finish your sentence.

Dr. Rosh:   I was going to say you probably have carried over a lot of the same disciplines even during skiing to now in many things just because of the mental health and the physical health that you maintain. So yeah, both. What’s a typical morning routine look like now and what did one look like in the prime of your ski racing?

Sarah:   I tend to do the same things now that I did back then when I’m skiing. So if we have to be leaving at 5:00, I wake up at 4:00 and I warm up for an hour. I do this whole core yoga Tai Chi sequence that makes my body get in alignment. That has obviously some visualizing going on along with it. I feel like the earlier I get up, the more my body warms up, the more success I’m going to have out on the hill because skiing is such a demanding physical sport. It’s a simple routine that I do, and it slowly wakes me up. I do that religiously. I really found that helps. I don’t do that same thing when I’m here in Mexico. I do wake up if I’m motivated in the morning. Sometimes I can’t get out of the bed in this heat, but I’ll go up on my roof. We have a beautiful roof here that outlooks over the trees. I’ll do 20 minutes of Tai Chi and then I’ll do a meditation. Then I have our family—We do Wim Hof meditations in the afternoon. My husband, I just turned him on to it and he just loves it. Lasse, he doesn’t really get the effects as much, but I think he’s slowly learning to have more of a conscious breathing and all that. I mean those are the things that I like to focus on and then whatever happens during the day.

Dr. Rosh:   As far as the Wim Hof techniques, is there a place that you could recommend that someone search it or just search online for it? Is there a particular video or book or anything that you used?

Sarah:   I learned about Wim Hof from my Mexican teammate Rodolfo. He posted something about him. I haven’t heard of him before. I know he’s all over the web now. There is a great video on YouTube. It’s with two minute breath holds. I think there’s ones with one and a half. It’s just a basic—He leads you through the breathing. I taught myself through YouTube. Yeah. Just look up Wim Hof breathing technique on YouTube and you can find how to do it. I would also recommend looking into this SOMA breath because it’s fascinating. It’s really cool.

Dr. Rosh:   Do you know how to spell that?

Sarah:   S-O-M-A.

Dr. Rosh:   Soma.

Sarah:   SOMA breath. I just learned about this yesterday, and I’m super excited to delve into it a little more. It’s easy to teach yourself those things with the internet.

Dr. Rosh:   So you had your first child Lasse in 2008 who made a guest appearance about 20 minutes ago. I saw him on the video here. Your second child, Resi, in 2013. After your first child in 2008, you continued to race for the U.S. Ski team. That was a big deal. You were the only person on the U.S. Ski team at the time who had a child, and you may be the only person ever who has had a child while they’re on the U.S. Ski team. I’m not sure. What was that decision like that you made with your husband at the time to continue to be a ski racer? From the sacrifices that you’re going to have to make and the life that you’re going to have to live. You do that as a family. Was there anything in that decision that you were afraid of?

Sarah:   This kind of goes back to that whole goal setting thing. For some reason I had this weird urge, I was like I want to race as a mom. I told my teammates that. I didn’t have a boyfriend or a husband or anything. I was like I want to be a mom and race. They’re like, “You’re crazy. I want to be done with skiing when I’m a mom.” Granted I wasn’t married when I became pregnant, but I knew this was the man that I wanted to have my children with. I was at an Erich Sailer ski camp in June when I found out I was pregnant. So I called him, and I was like, “Oh, I’m pregnant.” We’re just like what? What? How did that happen? We thought we were practicing not having a child. For me it was easy because, like I said, I had that inkling that I wanted to do it. I waited the 40 days or whatever that I was recommended before I started real physical activity. I was like well, is the team going to accept me back? I called the team right away when I found out I was pregnant. I was like I’m pregnant, and they were like, “Okay, well have a good life.” When I told them I wanted to continue racing, they were like, “Well, let’s see how that goes.” The first year back I scored points in my first World Cup back, but then I kind of dipped down and I wasn’t fast for a while. I don’t know the stresses of it or whatever. My husband was willing to travel. He took care of Lasse while I was training. Everything worked out. The team was super willing—We had a very open team, and the coaching staff was willing to take on that load which was amazing.

By the end of the season, I got my speed back. I won NorAm. I kind of got bumped off the World Cup because I was flat for a while. Then I started winning NorAms again. I was on my way to winning the U.S. Nationals, but crashed in the second run. I definitely had my speed back by the end, but I hadn’t made the criteria for my age. Because at my age, you had to be doing stuff on the World Cup and I had only gotten that one World Cup. So the next season I was still named onto the team, but I had to fund my own way. So that, for me, was a little bit disappointing because I had proven my speed again. I had a spot on the World Cup still from those points that I earned. Luckily, the FIS was giving the U.S. Ski team money for my rankings. So I had to fight with the U.S. Ski team that was allotted for my position. That became a big deal, but I ended up making the money that I needed to travel and fund that season. Then I got a fifth place in a World Cup that year and was having consistent results. So I was able to make the—

I decided to retire on my own terms in 2012. I was still having pretty decent results. My last race was Mikaela’s first podium. I wasn’t enjoying one, losing my status to Mikaela. I didn’t want somebody taking my role as the top technical skier. Then also the coach was very Austrian and square. He only saw Mikael and he didn’t see the effort that I thought I was giving as a mother. So I decided it was time to call it quits with the ski team. I still had this idea of the Mexican team. That came about in 2009 because Hubertus von Hohenlohe, who was my teammate, he’s 60. So at the last Olympics—is it the Olympics or World Championships? It was the World Championships. The two of us combined we were 100 years old. He was 60 and I was 40. It was pretty funny. He was friends with my husband’s family. He’s like, “Why don’t you switch to the Mexican team? We can get your passport easy.” It wasn’t easy. It took us six years or whatever to get the passport. So I was always harnessing this dream to keep going, keep going. The thing about being on the Mexican team is there’s no real pressure to have results. So I could train as much as I want and do whatever I wanted basically and still have my position on the Olympic team. I’m fast. I’m definitely still fast, but I’m not as fast as I was. I just don’t put in the hours. I think, maybe not now, but back a couple of years ago I could have been just as fast. I just wasn’t training as much. I didn’t have the team support that the U.S. Ski Team has.

Dr. Rosh:   Yeah. Gosh, there’s so much there. I’m going to dissect that a little. So just going back to the beginning of what you just were talking about from pre-motherhood to post-motherhood, it took you a little while to kind of get back to your fighting form. Did things change for you significantly in the way you had to train and your mindset or were you just doing the same thing and just having to spend more time doing it? Was there anything specific of how you changed post-Lasse?

Sarah:   Well, the breastfeeding was a little awkward. I had a breast pump that I would bring on the hill. One of my coaches one day was like, “Oh Sarah, you got your own oxygen tank?” Then he got closer and he’s like, “No, no. It’s your breastfeeding.” Then Federico blew out his knee. So he couldn’t come on one of the trips with me. So I kind of had to quit breastfeeding cold turkey. I had these enormous swollen breasts that were leaking out. My coaches were just like, “Oh my god Sarah. What is wrong with you?”

Dr. Rosh:   Wow.

Sarah:   Yeah. It definitely became more of a balance of attending to my family and making sure that Lasse felt the love of his mother and focusing on my own needs and selfishly doing my sport. So it became a little bit more of a balance, although I still was selfish in a lot of ways. Thankful to my husband that he was able to take the load of being mother and father at the same time.

Dr. Rosh:   Wow.

Sarah:   But we traveled together. He was there for all the races. It was also a very growing and enlightening period for him as a father.

Dr. Rosh:   Sure, sure. We’ll touch on that. In 2011, you skied your final World Cup race in Lienz, Austria as a U.S. athlete. You did this, right—you could look this up on YouTube, it was fabulous—wearing a dress rather than a traditional ski race suit. About half way down the course you stop, and someone comes out. Is that your husband at the time or your coach?

Sarah:   That’s my coach.

Dr. Rosh:   And hands you your son Lasse, who was about three or four at the time. You ski the remainder of the run holding your son in your arms. What meaning did this last run have for you at that time? No one knew you were going to come back, and you didn’t even know necessarily that you were still going to ski in the Olympics later even after that, but this was your last race. What meaning or what was going through your mind on that last run?

Sarah:   It was exciting. It was really emotional. I didn’t realize what a turning point that was and just now that whole U.S. Ski Team how that almost seems like a different lifetime ago. For me it was just, the whole thing came together. Before I was married and with the children, my teammates are like, “You’ve got to do your last run naked. You’ve got to do your last run naked.” I was like, “Well, I could maybe do a bikini or something.” Luckily, Julia had these swimsuit bottoms and Resi loaned me the dress. So it all kind of pieced together. Then the last minute we’re in this lodge waiting for the race to start. They’re like, “Why don’t you ski down with Lasse? That would be so fun.” So we planned this all on the go. It ended up being one of the most memorable runs, obviously, of my career because I was carrying Lasse and saying goodbye to the whole sport in a way. I wasn’t sad to let it go. I was excited for what was ahead, and I was happy with what I had accomplished as a skier. So it was a great way to move forward. I think it was a fun way and people enjoyed watching. I felt bad for Wendy Holdener was right behind me on the start. So she had to kind of wait for the whole process. She had a horrible race, but she’s gone on to become one of the World Cup’s top stars.

Dr. Rosh:   Oh good. Yeah, I was wondering that same thing when I was watching the video. That was kind of the passing of the baton, I think. I think it’s symbolic for all of women’s U.S. ski racing. I mean this wasn’t just a symbol for yourself. I think this was a symbol of a reigning in of a new era in a sense of U.S. women’s ski racing for sure. You take some time off and you get a little restless.

Sarah:   No I was just waiting for that passport. I was ready to go. The FIS had already accepted me for the Sochi Olympics. I could have had six by now. I got the passport one month after Sochi. So that was a bummer.

Dr. Rosh: Yeah, yeah. I saw that. The New York Times you’re quoted saying this is when you decided that you wanted to pursue racing for Team Mexico in the Olympics. The New York Times said you said, “I’m doing this for the passion of the sport and to inspire others. I know I’m not going to win, but I want to prove that people my age and girls in general can push the limit. It’s about longevity. The guys do it.” Then I want to just read one more quote because I think this transition that happens in your life with motherhood, Mexican citizenship, and racing for another country. Your husband actually says, “It’s also the beginning of her career as a mentor of a new nation. I think there is a lot she can do and a lot of people she can inspire, the young and up and coming racers.” So you go from almost two decades of racing for the United States, for yourself, inspiring the next group of athletes coming up behind you. Now some of them are retiring now. Yet here you are still. You still go on. You’re racing for Mexico. You’re inspiring the youth of a country to pursue some of their dreams that they never thought that they would have the opportunity to do. So what has that done for your life these last couple of years? Would you consider the racing you’ve done in Mexico and the mentorship and the coaching that you’ve done the new purpose in your life?

Sarah:   Yeah. I think what I love more than competing is being with the younger athletes and walking them through their hard spots. I’m still helping Resi Stiegler a lot. She calls me all the time. I didn’t assume that role or I don’t think I’m the all-knowing or anything like that. I just happen to get these people that I feel like I can help. What I love the most about being this athlete—race player coach is what one of my coaches calls it—is being able to interact as a coach and as an athlete. You have just such a different perspective. So here I am. I have a group of athletes that I’m working with. Most coaches don’t even know how to carve a turn anymore. I’m racing the course, running the course with them. So we can have specific conversations about a turn, the snow type, tuning the skis, the feeling of the edges. I have such a different perspective than most coaches can actually have. I think that’s made some coaches that don’t see the potential of it jealous or uncomfortable. That’s been a little bit of a conflicting issue in certain areas. I have certain coaches that really promote it with like Erich and my coach in Vail, Crawford. So I’ve had people that have had outlets for me to make this possible.

Then I do my own camp in Austria. I had an assistant coach and he’s like, “You can’t coach and race at the same time.” I’m like watch me. Yes I can. It does maybe detract from my own training, but at this point that’s not my purpose anymore to be the best in the world. My purpose is more to pass it along and keep going with it as long as I can. For me, the best part of ski racing is going down the course. The actual skiing part is the most fun. Skiing down the course is amazing, it’s exhilarating. Why would you want to give that up? So I have that along with—I’m perpetually 19. I think being here in Mexico has helped me grow up a little bit, but I’m perpetually 19. The girls I coach with are perpetually 19 because after 19 they go to college or move on, and I always seem to be with that PG level because I’m a player coach. So I’m racing along that kind of age limit. So my athletes are normally around that age. So I have this perpetual 19 year old mentality, which has been really fun.

Dr. Rosh:   Is there anything that you have learned from coaching that you apply to your own skiing?

Sarah:   It’s funny because I think about this a lot as well. Everyday I’m on the snow, I get to meet new people who know new and different things. I’m constantly like—I know life is a game of learning and teaching. So I know everybody I’m teaching I can also learn from. I know that there’s teachers everywhere. So every day I’m learning something. So I feel like every year I continue with the sport, the more I become a master of the whole realm of things. That’s been amazing for me. Most kids are giving the sport up when they go to college or after college. For me, it’s been a way to really get into the sport and learn and learn and be more in tune with what’s going on and the technique and the mental challenges and all those kinds of things.

Dr. Rosh:   What mistakes do you see, if any, that young skiers often make? This doesn’t have to be technical. I just mean maybe at a high level. The athletes that you train, do you see common mistakes that they’re making? Maybe thinking about something or how their perceptions of anything? I could rephrase that a little. What should young skiers be doing more of or less of?

Sarah:   There’s all different kinds of skiers. You have the kids that will just go as fast as they can, but never make it to the bottom. That frustrates me so bad. I’m like you will hike back up there and you make those gates. Erich always was a proponent of getting to the bottom, getting the time. You blow out of the course, it’s over. I always try to push the kids that are doing to really try and finish the course, make it through the course. It’s like playing the piano. Maybe you’re going to play it a little slower to make all the keys before you get fast. If you get fast, you start making mistakes. Get through and then you can start pushing, pushing, pushing. Or push three gates and then make sure you get through. So that’s something I work on a lot with younger kids. Then I think there’s so many distractions nowadays. Just making sure that—Some of these kids want to make it. I have Alexandro who’s a young Mexican racer that I coach who is just full of energy, full of life, has amazing goals. He wants to go to the Olympics in summer and winter. He wants to be a marathon guy and then a ski racer. He has these amazing goals, but he’s so distracted so easily by things. So just trying to keep him on focus and keep him watching the videos and manifesting where he wants to go.

Dr. Rosh:   I just want to touch on one more thing on youth skiers. You brought this up. You touched on it a little about ski schools. Is for youth skiers who are committed—they commit, not their parents. They commit to wanting to become a high level skier. Is there a right time, age, or range that they should transition to let’s say a program that is year round or a ski school? Maybe places in the east coast and Vermont or out west.

Sarah:   My dad always wanted—I was like I want to go to Burke or I want to go—He wanted me home. He wanted to be in charge. He didn’t want to lose his kid. So for me it was never really an option. I look at Lasse who is like—We’re living in Mexico and he’s just like, “Mom I just want to ski. I just want to ski.” So I’m like how can I make this possible? Do I need to be there helping you get there? Then we leave Federico behind. So it becomes this complicated push and pull. Is the ski school going to be looking out for my athlete, my daughter 100%? My son? Are they going to get washed into the mix and it’s just going to become that’s their education. I lost them as a daughter, and they lost them as an athlete. So I think it’s a really tough question. I know when Mikaela went to Burke her mom went with her. I don’t know how many kids are actually making it out of these schools alone onto the big stage. Maybe having a parent is more important than being in one of these academies. You can always make a year round program because there’s camps and things like that. You can hook on with other teams around the world. Is the American system the best way? Probably not. If you’re going to think about doing a school, you might want to think about Austria or Switzerland where they actually are known for creating world class skiers. So there’s a lot that goes into thinking about those things.

I’m also thinking about that as a parent of a kid who wants to ski race. I want to be there as his mentor because I feel like I have the experience, but at the same time it’s hard to be his mom. I try not to coach him too much because I didn’t want to push him away from it. So I basically ignored him on the hill. Finally last year he was like, “Mom, coach me. I want to be faster.” So that’s kind of the feedback I was looking for. You have these other parents that are so pushy that the kid’s like, “Ah, screw skiing. I don’t want to do that anymore.” Now Lasse’s just like, “I want to ski. I want to ski mom. I want to be with my friends. I want to ski.” So we’re trying to find the right way for him. He’s not sure if he wants to be a World Cup, but he said he did want to try and get a college scholarship so that he could race for a college at some point.

Dr. Rosh:   We’re going to go back to that last part in a second. I want to just—We’ll start wrapping up here. There’s an article I read in February 2018. This was, I believe, right before you represented Mexico in the Olympics in South Korea. You said, “All the gurus talk about dying before you can be reborn. This Olympics will be a death for me, but then I will be reborn in a new direction. I haven’t committed to everything yet, but Junior Team Mexico is on the drawing board.” So we’re now two years after that when you said that. Looking back at that, where are you now as far as your rebirth?

Sarah:   Well, I took a young Mexican skier to the Youth Olympics this year in Switzerland, which was a really cool experience. She was a first year FIS racing, which is the international level of competition where you can get rankings to be able to make it to a race like the Olympics. So we had to hunt down races, which became really complicated because South America had no snow at the beginning of the season. So we had a whole trip planned and had to cancel and replan. We went to South America and did something crazy like 14 races in 20 days or something like that, which is a lot. I raced right with her. I coached her. I mean there were some junior races that I didn’t do, and she did by herself, but she qualified for the Olympics in that series. We got to go to Switzerland and have the best time of our lives.

The best thing about the Olympic games is maybe not—Maybe for a lot of people it’s winning the medals, but just to be a part of something so global and so peaceful that you have kids from all over the world. Like my best friend at this Olympics became a girl from Iran, a coach from Iran. You hear all these conflicts with the U.S. and Iran, and we became great friends. We didn’t have that much differences between us. We had a lot of fun. We could talk about things. Thankfully, she spoke English. Going to the Olympics is more than just the medals. It’s being in a global community and being a part of something so big. Lausanne has the Olympic Museum. So we got to go see the history of the Olympics, how it formed. There was this French guy that was completely committed to developing—He spent all of his savings just to make the modern day Olympics happen. I’m so thankful. I hope we can go back to having big events like that without putting people’s health in jeopardy just because it is so powerful to be part of that global community that is in search of peace in the name of sport. 

Dr. Rosh:   That is a really nice way to put it. I’ve read that your goal is to—this was right before the Olympics in South Korea. You said your goal was to compete in two more Olympics. The second one, wherever it is—we didn’t know at the time—will likely be your last. Your son Lasse would be 18 and competing potentially in his first Olympics. You’d like to be the first mother to compete with her son. Is that still true?

Sarah:   Yeah. I mean we still have six years until that. So we’ll see. Ski racing is demanding on the body. I’m starting to feel my age a little big. I have little spots. Keeping up that healthy diet and routine has just—Yeah. I want to do it for sure. This whole coronavirus confused me. I’m like well is skiing really that important. Is it just going to become this elitist sport now because maybe the flights are going to become crazy outrageously expensive. I read FIS wants to do the World Cup strictly in Europe maybe. So who knows where the sport’s actually going. I want to keep helping kids and teaching kids and being around that youthful vibe. Being on the snow really excites me after being in the heat for so long. It’s been nice to have the contrast. Yeah, definitely shooting in that direction. We’ll see what the world decides to do with this coronavirus.

Dr. Rosh:   Well, I think that’s probably a good place that we could end here. I don’t know if there’s anything that you wanted to end with, any messages or any last thoughts here. There’s so much more that I know that I want to talk to you about and ask you about. You have a whole life in Mexico and surfing, which is a huge passion of yours. I think there are questions about the Flying Ravinos that I wanted to know about, but I think we can save that for another time. Is there anything? You may not have anything that you wanted to say. There’ll be young athletes listening to this. There’ll be adults who are embarking on a new time in their life. Anything?

Sarah:   I don’t know. I don’t know. That’s hard.

Dr. Rosh:   Yeah, yeah. No problem. Put you on the spot.

Sarah:   For me, I’ve just been focusing a lot on consciousness and making everything a little bit more conscious. I think if we do that as a humanity, I think we can start really making this planet an amazing place to live.

Dr. Rosh:   Yeah. Well you’ve brought so much to my life. You brought so much to my daughter and son and wife’s life. You’ve changed our family and a lot of people that we’re friends with. You’ve changed their lives as well. You’ve been an incredible influence in so many ways. In fact, oftentimes we hear ourselves—Danielle and I—say, “What would Sarah want you to do in this situation?” It helps us to parent. It helps our children to stay focused during ski season this past year. Ruby would do the breathing exercises that you taught her at one of your camps. So you are leading the life and having the impact that you’ve set out to have. You went from influencing the young members of the U.S. Ski Team to now influencing the youth who may become future members of the U.S. Ski Team out there. So I want to thank you for the impact you’ve had on our life. I’m sure there’s many, many other people out there who feel the same.

Sarah:   Thank you Adam. That’s nice.

Dr. Rosh:   You bet. So Sarah, thank you so much for your time. I’m really grateful.

Sarah:   It’s awesome.

Dr. Rosh:   Really grateful for it. Perhaps we do, I’m thinking, a part two that may actually dive into ski technique. Perhaps we do a part two with Resi Stiegler on as well to talk more about actual tactical skiing. In the meantime, we have a lot to think about, a lot to listen to, a lot to learn from your wise words in this interview. So thank you again Sarah.

Sarah:   What we know is we know nothing. So just go out there and soak it up.

Dr. Rosh:   Excellent. Alright. Well that will do the recording I think.

By Adam Rosh

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